The Heavy Toll of Alzheimer’s on Women


Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

Nearly 7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and more than 11 million provide their unpaid care. The cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is estimated to total $360 billion in 2024, increasing to nearly $1 trillion (in today’s dollars) by mid-century.

The primary risk factor for Alzheimer’s is age, and California is older than it’s ever been, being home to more adults aged 65 and over than any other state. Women are especially impacted by this disease, making up nearly two-thirds of those diagnosed and over 60% of caregivers. With 11 million women in the U.S. living with Alzheimer’s or caring for someone who has it, however, the disease is no less burdensome.

In the EMS briefing on May 9, Alzheimer’s practitioners, researchers, advocates and firsthand storytellers discussed how and why Alzheimer’s disproportionately impacts women both as patients and caregivers, and what can be done to ease the toll.

Dr. Wynnelena C. Canio, Geriatric Medicine Practitioner, recalled that in 2019, Governor Newsom announced the creation of a task force to make recommendations on how California can prevent and prepare for the increase in cases of Alzheimer’s and other diseases that cause dementia, of which it is a part.

Not only does California have more people with dementia, the numbers are expected to double by 2040, and this population is becoming more diverse, creating an urgency to prepare in response to the needs of all people with dementia and their families. He announced that the final report of the task force included ten main recommendations included in the Aging Master Plan.

One of them was to create a multilingual, multicultural and intergenerational public awareness campaign. We can reduce the impact by educating and empowering all Californians to recognize the signs of Alzheimer’s disease for themselves and others.

Dr. Mirella Diaz-Santos, UCLA Assistant Professor in Residence of Neurology, Director of Equity for Latino/Hispanic Healthy Aging Lab said the reasons why women are more exposed to Alzheimer’s and dementia are being investigated.

Factors ranging from genetics, longevity, menopause, chronic stressors, and even discrimination and racism. She said that among the Latino community there is a lot of stigma for talking about the topic, and we are suffering in silence because we are afraid of being labeled with dementia, which is typically associated with being crazy.

Also ReadChallenging the Stigma of Alzheimer’s in Ethnic Communities

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